Review of Chris Hayes’ A Colony in a Nation

I was not looking for this book but a review caught my attention. I thought it might be an okay book but as I read it, I realized it was one of the best books I have read lately. It begins by describing what it is like to live as a full citizen in a nation. Then it contrasts this with what it is like to live in a colony controlled from a distance and where you do not have citizen rights but rather become a commodity to be used as seen fit by the nation doing the colonizing.

Hayes describes life in colonized places around the world and concludes that there are also colonies in America where residents do not have citizen privileges or at least have them minimized as much as possible. Undue burdens are placed on them to benefit those living in the nation but not the colony. The police are seen as a colonizing force.

People living in these colonies are marginalized, seen as a burden rather than an asset to the larger society and oppressed. They are compressed into what we have called ghettos and pockets of poverty. As much as possible they are hidden from public view and herded into substandard living conditions.

Programs known as war on crime have not produced any substantial decrease in crime, but if anything have increased crime, police violence and a punishment system unmatched elsewhere in the civilized world.

His suggested solution is to help those living in our colonies find a way to develop their skills and make a contribution to society. We need to learn how to listen to them, accept them and help them become part of our nation and become full fledged citizens.

This book is a challenge to all of us to remake our society into one which respects and cares for all its citizens. It will not be easy to undo the damage we have done but it is never too late to start.


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